The show's first-ever little person to compete tells PEOPLE exclusively: "I fear people ... won't take us seriously"

By Terra Jolé
Updated October 05, 2016 06:19 PM
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Credit: Terra Jole/Instagram

Little Women L.A.star Terra Jolé is making history as the first little person to compete onDancing with the Stars, and she’s blogging about season 23 exclusively for PEOPLE. Follow Jolé, 36, and her partner Sasha Farber, 33, on Twitter!

I really wanted to be a part of Dancing with the Stars not only to challenge myself, but hopefully to show other people with disabilities that anything is possible.

As a new mother of two, I wasn’t even sure I would be physically able to perform. I gave birth to my son three weeks before my very first rehearsal. Luckily, the doctor approved this journey and I’ve never looked back.

I’m really looking forward to getting the jitters out in the ballroom tonight and leaving everything I have on the dance floor. I love dancing – closet dancing, totally not professional – but have never couple danced until DWTS!

That said, I’m not without fear going into the premiere. Sasha and I won’t look like any other couple on the dance floor, but I personally think of it as an advantage.

What I do I fear is that people have already dismissed us as competitors due to my physical appearance. I’m fearful they won’t take us seriously. If there’s one goal, it’s to change not only fellow competitors opinion but America’s opinion on what “different” people are capable of.

The Dancing gods could not have paired me with a more perfect partner. Sasha is extremely talented, and daily I try to absorb as much talent as I can from him. He’s had to alter a few moves, transitions and dips, but he never seems intimidated by the challenge. Honestly, I can already feel a lifelong friendship with Sasha, and as an added bonus he’s teaching me to dance, dance, dance.

And as a little person, I welcome every challenge as an opportunity to prove to myself – and others – that there’s no dream too big or out of reach.

For tonight’s premiere, we are performing a jive. It’s a dance I’d never performed before this journey, but I feel I’m in good hands with Sasha and I can’t wait to show off our moves to the world.

One of the hardest parts of rehearsal turned out to be wearing heels after nine months of not wearing them due to my pregnancy. How quickly we lose practice!

It’s also been a bit of a struggle to keep up with Sasha. Having gone through a cesarean section less than seven weeks ago, jumping into dancing for more than four hours a day has my body in full shock mode.

My legs have been a bit of a speed bump at times. They don’t do things that most average height women can do, but that won’t stop us. Just modify and keep it moving! That’s the story of my life. No excuses – ever.

My emotions going into tonight can best be compared to The Hunger Games. All of the competitors like each other and don’t want to see each other go, but in the end there will only be one winner. Everyone has different strengths, and all you can do is your best to “stay alive.”

I’m less nervous about being on live TV and more nervous about bringing my absolute best to the dance floor. You only get one dance, make it unforgettable!

And I really see myself as my biggest competition right now. Each week, I want to keep improving. No matter what, this journey is once in a lifetime, and I can’t wait to show America what little people can do.

Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.